My Top 5 Concerts Ever

This is my 200th post – thought I’d put in a bit more effort than usual.

In the spirit of the great John Cusack movie High Fidelity, here’s a list of the best five gigs I’ve ever attended.

Let me know your own top five.

Green Day, Bullet in a Bible tour, Telstra Dome, Melbourne, December, 2005

My daughter Beks and I were frantic with excitement in the weeks leading up to this gig. Me being a Green Day fan from way back, and her being a recent convert, we gave the Bullet in a Bible CD a massive workover in anticipation. The concert was my Christmas present to Beks that year and judging by her screams, I think she was pretty happy with it.

Wakes came along too, and she had a neat time, apart from us giving her grief about being the only person in the whole stadium that refused to participate in any of the usual lame crowd participation exercises. “After me, 1…2…1,2,3,4”

As usual for a stadium gig, the acoustics were crappy and not loud enough (I wanted my ears to bleed, dammit) and we were sitting in the gods (Beks was a bit too young for the mosh pit – next time GD come to Oz we’re definitely going to be down in the fun zone) – but the boys put on a memorable show nonetheless. Pretty impressive given it was the last leg of a gruelling tour for them.

Hurry back boys.

AC/DC & Angels, Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, February, 1981

Me and my High School buddy Paul Kelly took our pimply 17 year-old faces to the Myer Music Bowl to experience the raw power and energy of AC/DC, backed up by the magnificent Angels.

Doc Neeson and the boys wound up the crowd with a massive set of their favourite tunes (personally I thought they were better than accadacca), then out came AC/DC, fronted by Brian Johnson, Bon Scott having died the year before. (I just looked it up – did you know Bon Scott was christened Ronald Belford Scott. Belford???)

The concert was memorable not only for Angus Young’s endless power riffs, but also for the crowd carnage that night. It seemed as everyone in Melbourne under 40 years old was at the Bowl that night, ripping out trees, brawling, vomiting, pissing in people’s lawns and keeping the nearby hospital patients awake. The Sun newspaper had a field day with its usual indignant outrage. Paul and I refrained from any hooliganism of course (the only goody goodies there that night).

Fuck it was fun.

U2, Unforgettable Fire tour, Melbourne Sports & Entertainment Centre, September, 1984

I’m not sure if this was U2’s first visit to Australia but I know I only bought a ticket on the strength of ‘New Years Day’ which I loved at the time and still think is a cracker of a song.

I wasn’t expecting that much from U2, and I always found the MSEC a shithouse venue, so when Bono came walzing out and almost physically grabbed the crowd by the scruff of the neck and DEMANDED they get out of their seats, I was blown away.

You know what it’s usually like at those venues. If someone stands up and starts to dance, the middle-aged farts sitting behind them ’tisk’ and tap them on the shoulder and tell them to sit down. Not at this gig. Bono urged the crowd to GET UP! GET UP! GET UP! until everyone was on their feet, having a grouse time. Even the middle aged farts.

It shits me that I can’t get anywhere near a U2 ticket now.

Neil Young, Festival Hall, Melbourne, July, 1985

Details are a bit sketchy. A whole crew of us met up in a pub in North Melbourne and had copious quantities of beer beforehand. Lurch was definitely there. And Baz Boy. People around us were smoking funny smelling cigarettes. (I tried not to inhale). I think someone had a hip flask.

I do remember being absolutely in awe of seeing the great man, Neil Young on stage. One of my great buddies, Lurch was a lifelong fan, responsible for brainwashing the rest of us younger ones. Live Rust was played at every party, every night, every morning after. (Lurch also had a thing for Stevie Nicks, but that’s another story).

I remember The Needle and the Damage Done. I remember Cinnamon Girl. I remember Cortez the Killer. And check out the last 4 songs of the night (a lazy 28 song play list on the night, how’s that for value?):

  • Hey Hey, My My
  • Tonight’s The Night
  • Like A Hurricane
  • Powderfinger

Check out the full play list – AWESOME!

Neil Young, you rock.

Violent Femmes, The Palace, Melbourne, August, 1990

“It’s one, one, one for the money…”

I think I was a bit pished at this gig as well. What I do remember is that the Femmes really turned it on.And lots of crowd surfing and mosh-pit action.

Oh, and the crowd were really, really weird (at least for a normal suburban guy like me).

You know, piercings, gelled hair, tats, that type of thing.

Over to you readers. Did you go to any of these gigs? Have you been to better ones?


13 Responses to My Top 5 Concerts Ever

  1. Skinful says:

    I suppose that the Mamboo Tavern disco is technically not a concert and that was the only reason it wasn’t included.

  2. pear says:

    What’s with the email address, Skinful?

    ‘The_ian_walsh’? You mean there’s more than one of you???

  3. fearblank says:

    Oh yeah! we are so moshing next time! when there is a next time… I think that, apart from Greenday, the only concert I’ve actually been to is Kylie… when I was 11…?

    Jimmy Eat World and MyChemRom were good as supporting acts at GD…

  4. pear says:

    Wait till you’re older Beks, there’s a whole wide world of great live music out there to enjoy.

  5. col gray says:

    You’ll have to stand by for my top 5 entries Bruce Clarke, but here’s a few pointers I’ve come up with while thinking of my list.
    I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer concerts in smaller, more intimate venues rather than stadiums.
    You are right about the Melbourne Sports & Entertainment Centre being a dud. I too saw U2 there, Elvis Costello, Midnight Oil, INXS, Cold Chisel, Spandau Ballet (what the fuck was I thinking with that one?).
    If you are not lucky enough to be on the ground floor at the MSEC, then your seats were positioned facing at right angles to the stage. Usually you would overcome this by standing up but the gig would have to be good to get the crowd on their feet and the bouncers were instructed to sit you down again…Good luck with that one…
    The most disappointing night of my life was The Rolling Stones at the MCG but my greatest surprise and one of my all time favorite concert highlights was Elvis Costello at the MSEC
    I once saw a very pissed (or stoned) Michael Hutchence of INXS fame run onto the stage and trip over a microphone lead only to face plant on the floor, before he had even sung a song.
    I banged my head along with about 3000 other head bangers who rocked to the ANGELS on the rickety old floor upstairs of the fire hazard known as the Palace Theatre. The floor was creaking and bending, so much so that venue organizers asked everyone to cut out the stomping and head banging for fear that the second story floor would cave in. Needless to say, the Angels then cranked up to number 11.
    I’m envious about your AC/DC gig because I’ve never done the Accadacca thing.
    Neil Young would have been a beauty. I’ve never seen him live but our garage band always enjoyed playing his durges.
    I always enjoyed concerts at the Music Bowl cos there was plenty of grassy areas to crash on when you’ve had too much sneaky brandavino.
    I high fived the lead singer bloke from Mi Sex once.
    The drummer of the Models gave me the thumbs up when I was in the front row of their concert.
    MADNESS at the Palais was good.
    Billy Joel at Kooyong was not because the residents had complained about the noise the night before so our concert was on the number 3 volume level.
    Men at work came to my school when they were unknowns and my mate Cassar was the only one of us who thought they would one day become famous.
    Paul McCartney at the ‘G’ was good for the nostalgia factor.
    Robert Cray at the Concert Hall was a class act.
    Mick Jagger was surprisingly good at the Tennis Centre.

    Ah the memories…stand by for my favorites

  6. pear says:

    Spandau Ballet, hey Col? Very New Romantics of you. (Not that I can talk, I think I used to have their greatest hits CD).

    Yeah, I remember the shitful seat configuration of MSEC. Thankfully things have gotten a bit better for Melbourne concert-goers since then.

    That Palace story is a classic too. Doc Neeson was on that SBS music trivia show the other night. He’d had the obligatory plastic surgery and looks like a cross between Roy Orbison and Bert Newton. He sang ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?’ (No Way GF FO) and by the time he finished he was puffing like a steamtrain.

    ACDC played at Keilor Heights High School, I think when I was in Form 1 or 2. Almost as good as the time Stars played there!

  7. pear says:

    Oh yeah, and once at the Tarmac Hotel Laverton, Angry Anderson gave me the mike to sing/scream ‘We can’t be beaten’

  8. col gray says:

    Doc Neeson, a cross between Roy Orbison and Bert Newton!

    I reckon a cross between Roy Orbison and Bert Newton would equal Dorothy Gray.


  9. Remby says:

    Been to a few concerts in my time, but for nostalgic reasons (essentially my youth)can’t beat the Under 18 concerts held at Festival hall in the late 70’s, early 80’s. Saw some great Australia bands before they became famous, (to name a few: Australian Crawl, Inxs, Mi Sex, The Reels, The Models- my favourite). Use to be sore for days from the dancing, and the mass exodus afterwards (they were held on Sunday afternoons) was always eye opening and good fun.

    Also remembered classic moment at my high school where Dragon played 1977. Stood in the canteen line behind the big burly Bass player (Marc Hunter’s brother) expecting him to order some macho lunch, and bursting out in laughter when he asked for a”pack of twisties and some lollies”. Ahh my youth!

  10. pear says:

    That is a classic, Remby.

    Marc Hunter’s brother was Todd Hunter BTW.

    Ahhhh, the old Keilor Heights HS canteen, those were the days. I bet you can’t still buy twisties and lollies.

  11. col gray says:


    Thanks for that Pear.

    Do I ever when to see that face again?

    No way, get F*cked, f*ck off.

  12. Intensifier says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Intensifier.

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